BioWorld International Correspondent

Pantheco A/S, which is developing anti-infective therapeutics based on nucleic acid analogues, obtained a nonexclusive license from Applera Corp. subsidiary Applied Biosystems Group to manufacture peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) for research and development purposes.

In return, Applied Biosystems, of Foster City, Calif., has acquired a small minority stake in the Copenhagen, Denmark-based company, while Pantheco also raised DKK53.7 million (US$6.7 million) in fresh financing from a group of Danish investors.

The agreement with Applied Biosystems will give Pantheco more "freedom of operation," Pantheco CEO Anker Lundemose told BioWorld International. Previously, Pantheco had to purchase PNAs from Applied Biosystems for internal research purposes, as rights to the original PNA technology, which was developed at the University of Copenhagen, were split three ways.

Applied Biosystems acquired research rights from Millipore Corp., of Bedford, Mass. The Dako Group of companies holds diagnostic rights, while Isis Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Carlsbad, Calif., has therapeutic rights. Pantheco acquired exclusive rights from Isis to develop anti-infective drugs based on PNAs, which differ from naturally occurring nucleic acids by having a peptide rather than a sugar-phosphate backbone.

In September, it broadened its license to gain nonexclusive rights in diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It has not yet commenced this program. The company did commence an antiviral program late last year, Lundemose said, although it has not disclosed its disease targets.

The new injection of cash boosts Pantheco's total funding to DKK 230 million (about US$28 million) since its establishment in 1998. The company is now funded for about two years and will be able to enter Phase I clinical trials, which it plans to do next year, under its own steam.

The IPO climate in Denmark is similar to that in other areas at present. "We are not talking about an IPO right now. The window is not really open, as is the case in the UK and the United States," Lundemose said.